Remembering Pastor Andrae Crouch

Pastor Andraé Crouch, known as the father of modern gospel music, has gone to be with the Lord on Thursday, Jan. 8.

The 72-year-old singer, producer and composer had been hospitalized since Jan. 3 at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in the Los Angeles area after suffering a heart attack, says USA today.

In a 2011 interview with NPR’s Michel Martin, Pastor Crouch talked about the power of great gospel songs to transcend the divide between religious and secular music.

“I think that some people still think that the formula other than gospel still is not strong enough to get that crossover appeal to people enough that they would play it all the time or non-church people would accept it, but I disagree. I think that if something’s really good and it touches that part of their heart that has been untouched or maybe it has been touched, but they never wanted to admit it, I think that when they get back to that, I think that we are still in a place that people enjoy it the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed.

“And I think that when we like songs in gospel and it hits that part of the soul or the mind that brings back familiarity to the person or to the listeners, I think we zero in on something that will always be needed.”

Elvis Presley recorded Crouch’s “I’ve Got Confidence” for his 1972 gospel album He Touched Me, and Paul Simon recorded his “Jesus Is the Answer” on 1974’s Paul Simon in Concert: Live Rhymin’.

Crouch also became the go-to vocal arranger for Los Angeles recording sessions that needed a gospel sound, working not only with Michael Jackson and Madonna but also Elton John, Quincy Jones, The Commodores, Diana Ross and Ringo Starr.

Pastor Crouch was a San Francisco native that grew up in the Church of in Christ and formed his first group by the age of 14. Crouch brought a contemporary pop and R&B melodic sensibility to gospel, making him uniquely suited to appeal to both black and white audiences in the 1960s.

Pastor Crouch went on to win seven Grammys, receive an Academy Award nod for his arranging work on the 1985 film The Color Purple and finally was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998.

Reaction to the passing of Pastor Andraé Crouch was swift and mournful.

May Pastor Andraé Crouch rest in peace as the pioneer for Gospel Music singing and shouting in the heavens. His legacy will continue to live on.